Dhaka: Awami League of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina won Sunday’s parliamentary election, according to unofficial results reported by local media, after the main opposition alliance rejected the violence-hit polls.
Within hours of the counting of the votes, Bangladesh’s ruling party surged ahead – an outcome the opposition alliance had feared.
In a hurriedly called news conference on Sunday night, the leader of the Jatiya Oikya Front – the main opposition alliance – dubbed the election “farcical”.
“We reject the farcical election and want the election commission to hold a fresh election under a non-partisan administration,” said Kamal Hossain, an 82-year-old jurist who wrote the country’s secular constitution.
According to unofficial results reported by local TV networks, the ruling party had won 170 seats. A party needs 151 seats to form a government.
The Bangladeshi Nationalist Party-led alliance (BNP) managed to win just six seats out of 300 up for grabs in the 350-member parliament, or Jatiya Sangshad. Fifty seats are reserved for women.
Out of the 27 results announced, the ruling Grand Alliance won 21 while one seat went to the opposition, according to the election commission. The final results are likely to be announced by the election commission on Monday.
Hasina, who has headed the AL since 1981, went into the polls on the back of a decade of impressive GDP growth and booming garment exports. Bangladesh is the world’s second-largest exporter of garments after China.
The 71-year-old leader is set for a record fourth term in office in the South Asian Muslim-majority nation of 160 million.
She has been applauded for hosting nearly one million Rohingya refugees who took shelter in Bangladesh after fleeing a brutal military offensive in neighbouring Myanmar.
But critics have accused Hasina of authoritarianism and crippling the opposition. Her bitter political rival and leader of the BNP, Khaleda Zia, 73, is serving a 17-year jail term for corruption.
Voting in the capital, Dhaka, was largely peaceful as convoys of soldiers and paramilitary forces were on the streets, where most traffic was banned.
At least 17 people were killed across the country in clashes between members of rival parties on Sunday despite the deployment of around 600,000 security personnel to prevent violence.
More than 40 opposition candidates pulled out of the election after polls opened, citing vote-rigging and ballot-stuffing, according to the Daily Star.
The opposition claimed thousands of its activists were arrested in the lead-up to the polls.
“We are getting disturbing reports outside Dhaka that overnight votes have been cast illegally,” said Hossain of Jatiya Oikya Front.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA NEWS